Bruno Bozzetto


September, 2019

A greatness as simple as a walk in the park: the creator of the iconic Signor Rossi meets the Nobili world.

It's easy to say cartoon. Simple concepts, and the ability to describe complexity through the weapon of synthesis. Which are created through complex processes made up of tens, hundreds, thousands of drawings. When you meet the most acclaimed authors of the animated cinema face-to-face, it all seems easy: their clear vision and creative speed will make you believe that coming up with ideas is child's play, a matter of a quick thought; these particular ideas find their expression in apparently instinctive, elementary lines. When an author gives birth to an idea, though, his brain - and his hand, in the case of an illustrator - has already been through tens, hundreds of them at the speed of light. Then, wham!, a sign explodes, either on paper or on tablet, maybe a fast sign, traced using a sure hand. It is the «right» one, fully expressive and effective. What was it, easy? If anything, brilliant.

Take Bruno Bozzetto, the author of more than 300 films and comics in over 60 years of career. His specialty: knowing how to get the most from the minimalism of his pencil. A drop that stands for the ocean of his boundless imagination. The line that comes out is only one out of a million possible lines: looking at it, you can't help but think it is the right one. Even the white, empty paper becomes full, an environment where the character drawn by Bruno can move comfortably, take a position, and pull you into the field. Celebrating the primacy of the idea over the graphic form with each drawing.

Thirty years ago another genius of a different type of synthesis, the journalist Piero Angela, sought the ideal cartoonist to tell complicated stories such as quantum mechanics or illustrate concepts such as relativity or cultural entropy. And he chose Bozzetto’s hand. The journalist himself tells how Bozzetto entered Angela’s factory at the end of 1980 in his recent autobiographical book Il mio lungo viaggio (My Long Trip) published by Mondadori. «I asked him to illustrate an article I had written for the Republic called «How much oil does a philosopher burn?». As a matter of fact, a philosopher does not produce food, goods or services. He thinks. But in order to think, he must have a long energy chain behind him to support him. A beautiful animated cartoon was the result. And the beginning of a long collaboration».

The working method was very simple: Piero Angela would write his own narrative, Bozzetto received it by mail (no internet at the time, the very first faxes if anything) and he then began to conceive the scenes that could visually animate those concepts. Angela continues: «Bozzetto told me that, when he received my texts, he would fold the page in half so as to not be influenced by the cartoons that I sketched myself. Then, when he compared them with the ones he had drawn they looked 80% alike». The outcome was an amazing series of animated short films.

Over the years, Bozzetto created no less than 45 animated drawings for Quark, each lasting 8-10 minutes (almost 7 hours in total, the length of four movies!). They are still remembered as one of the most essential, imaginative and richest experiences in the history of modern TV. Each of the 25 frames per second that flowed before the eyes of the viewers had to be designed, drawn, coloured by hand, with sound added to it... But the real magic was how the animated stories seemed absolutely «simple», making the dissemination of complex concepts almost child’s play. Simplicity: the art of being concise, a prerogative almost exclusively pertaining to geniuses. Complex feelings such as jealousy, but also superconductors, embryology, genetic engineering, were all explained in the cartoons for which Bruno Bozzetto won the «Gold Medal» in Marburg, Germany and the «Award for Scientific Dissemination» in Verona in 1982.

80-year-old Bozzetto hasn’t let his age slow him down: a volcano of ideas, he can work as a lone wolf, but he is able to come together in a creative team with all sorts of skilled talents as well. This is the secret of the good director: the ability to lead a team to a result. It takes dozens of collaborators to make an entire film for the cinemas, or a TV series, and Bozzetto knows this well. Comics can settle for a much more limited team. And it is what happened with his «graphic novel»: over 250 pages in which Bozzetto, on his first attempt at this type of narration, brought back two of his most beloved characters: Minivip and Supervip, the main characters of the 1968 feature film Vip - Mio fratello superuomo (My brother superman).

At that time, dozens of screenwriters, musicians, illustrators, animators, colourists worked alongside Bozzetto to create 79 minutes that made the history of animated cinema. Today, the comeback of these beloved characters lights up a comic story written with Grégory Panaccione: his diversified talents give new graphic power and sensational colours to Bruno’s style. Minivip & Supervip - Il mistero del Via Vai is a film on paper, a full-bodied volume put into drawings and comics, a chance to think about our times, something that Bozzetto has loved to do ever since Mr. Rossi. Earth is a combination of pollution and indifference, where everybody moves exclusively by car, and has forgotten what it means to live outdoors and enjoy what nature has to offer. Minivip is about to become a father, but Supervip has just been left by the woman he loves. After a short quarrel, Minivip and Supervip are back together once again to fight the threat of a ruthless alien monster who wants to invade our planet.

A fantastic comic strip in itself, this gem of a story becomes an opportunity to ponder on Bozzetto's own poetics: half a century ago, Vip - My brother superman had been an excuse to go on about the «state of affairs», the recent season of controversies and the social changes taking place by radically rethinking the role of the superhero. Today, Minivip & Supervip - Il mistero di Via Vai (published by Bao Publishing, 2018) focuses on a different current issue: the tendency of society to reduce themselves to small parts, resulting in the creation of ruins made of loneliness. Fortunately, a genius always carries a spare sheet of paper for any creative jet to flourish, even in a grey world disheartened by pollution.

With his cartoons, Bozzetto was one of the most brilliant columnists of the Corriere della Sera for many years. BergamoToons is a festival for professionals and fans of the comics field, hosting workshops, screenings and conventions, where a variety of arts and crafts can meet in a celebration of the animated cinema that has always fascinated children and adults. During the festival, Nobili provoked the Master by offering him the spotless white surface of the Dress mixer to let the genius create a «flash cartoon» on the theme of «drawing water». The happy design that came out of it, the result of a cheerful creative expression, warbles with fantasy, almost animating the movable lever of the tap. A drop of genius expressed in the element of water, the perfect field for a pioneer of the storytelling with an environmental background. Bozzetto smiles: «I don't care for creative acts done with a specific purpose. It must be free, it must be an idea that comes to life. And I love simplicity».